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Friday, August 13, 2010

First out of the Box

Well, I haven't quite got the monstrous following from my satirical blog based on my complete lack of political interest, so upon reflection I've decided to go another route.

The problem for me was that I sometimes feel that I haven't lead a life worthy of interest, but reflection on that point has actually proved me wrong. I have done some pretty fun and wild things, but these little adventures I've only ever tossed out as drunken stories to tell, and the fact that most of these adventures I've had have been based on poor decisions or lack of direction makes them seem to me quite pointless from time to time.

Fact is, I quite cherish these memories, and wouldn't change these experiences for anything, despite the setbacks I've taken in life due to my wanderlust. The point of all this is, that I'm pig sick of working dead end retail jobs, and would much rather go to strange and interesting places and relate what I find, who I meet and what stupid things happen to me. I have a penchant for getting into quite the fix every now and again, and besides the trauma it might cause me, it could make for interesting reading. So, off I go to post some tales of my past journeys, hoping against hope to encapsulate enough readers to break what I call the "Warhol Barrier."

Today is Friday, 13th August 2010. It's almost coincidental that I'm starting this blog today, as one of the most wonderful, yet harrowing travel experiences I've had really began on a Friday the 13th. October 13th, 2000 to be exact. It was the first time I met a witch.

As an aside, I've made a little pact with myself. I'd like to be able to get to the place where I met her in time to make the tenth anniversary of what is a monumental event for one person out of seven billion. Not national holiday stuff, sure, but it means a lot to me, and I hope you'll agree once I share the details. (Be patient, I'm getting to it. Or scroll down and skip this bit, whatever.) Problem being is that I'd have to get half way around the world without any money to do so in two month's time, so it is likely to remain stuck in the realm of fantasy.

It wasn't the first time I had been to Holland, that had happened a year previously, when I spent ten days in Amsterdam and quickly had to decamp for London as the frenetic nature of this city coupled with the vast amounts of drugs I was cramming into my system was tapping on the narrow thread my consciousness had on my sanity. There's more to tell about that trip, to be sure, so watch this space.

My return the following year was nothing more than a prolonged desire to escape my own reality. I arrived in Holland on money I had borrowed from my soon to be ex-employer, and had no desire to do anything more than place myself on a downward spiral to destitution. I certainly achieved that, let me tell you. Once again, I spent a great deal of time (nearly three weeks) and all my money in Amsterdam. I couldn't help feeling a little like Pinocchio when he gets stuck on fantasy island instead of going to school. Problem being was that I was already a jackass, so I hadn't far to go.

Once again, I needed to escape this wicked city ('damers who are reading this, please take no offence. It's a lovely city, full of history and culture. It is only through my own vices that make it wicked) and set out on foot in a westerly direction. My first thought was to walk to Marseilles, ostensibly to join the Foreign Legion (and why wouldn't they take me if I completed such a forced march?) I think I was still feeling the effects of a rather strong ecstasy trip from the night before. That, and not being geographically gifted either. It looks like a short distance on a map, but I didn't even have one of those handy. And my liquid assets were the sum total of about eight guilders. That's about $4 to you and me. I wasn't going to make Belgium, let alone France. I had serious doubts about surviving the night by early afternoon. I made it all the way to a little town called Heemstede, and slept rough in the woods just beyond the railway station, looking in envy at the warm light coming from the twee cottages that lined the periphery of the wood. Warm, cozy, food on the table (I hadn't eaten a thing all day.) I was tempted to knock on a random door and ask for hospitality, but thought better of it. I wasn't about to get jacked up for vagrancy. At least, not yet.

The next day, I hopped an intercity bus that just happened to be going to the Hague. My Foreign Legion fantasy quickly melting away to a desire to find my Embassy and beg them to send me home. Instead, I found myself on a footbridge over a canal a few blocks from Central Station realizing the hopelessness of my predicament.

Hell of a first day in town. The thing is, that due to the Netherlands' lax approach to what they call soft drugs, dealing with tourists who overindulge and have emotional breakdowns as a result is probably something of a common occurrence.

A week later, I had work with a temp agency that was fielding me catering jobs, I was able to afford to stay in a hotel and things were looking up. So, after a long day passing out hors d'ouvres at a function for retirees from the chocolate milk factory, I decided to live it up and have a pint before checking into my hotel. Just the one, mind you as I had another gig early the next day.

One pint. Shit, I've never been able to have just one pint in my life.

I don't remember what the final tally was, but by the end of it all, I wound up full of beer and weed, crashing on the couch in the apartment of a friend of a coworker. Probably getting on to two in the morning, I'd have to be up and going by seven if I were to make it on time to my assigned job. Timing alone meant it was unlikely to happen. Add in the factor that I had no clear idea of where I was and even less of how I was going to get where I needed to be, and the whole event became an impossibility.

I did what seemed to me to be the most sensible thing and said "Fuck it," as I struggled to get my bearings leaving a stranger's flat shortly after sunrise, Friday the 13th of October.

Coincidence and lack of direction seem to go hand in hand with me and wandering the eerily empty streets of the Hague had me pull up to a store front I had remembered passing a few nights before. It was a coffee shop of the type that deals in weed and hash, one of many in town. The thing that set this one apart, and what had initially caught my attention was the advertisement in the large front window for a coffee or tea served with a pre-rolled joint for just 7 guilders between seven in the morning and noon.

Seemed like just the thing to do at the time, my record for poor decision making needing to go unchallenged.

And that's when I met Lilly. She was the server, a kind and compassionate woman of remarkable attractiveness, and a witch.

Stick with me and I'll tell you all about it.

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